Black Twig Pickers – Soon One Morning

4 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Black Twig Pickers (?)

Both sinking in to and evolving beyond the Americana borders of their debut, Black Twig Pickers firm up their sound by wholly embracing the genre – there’s no longer necessarily a need to frame it as anything but that – and then deepen their sound and grasp on it by working in more original territory, and perhaps viewing Soon One Morning as an album, and not just a collection of “mountain ragas.” Which isn’t to suggest that this material is a direct changeup in the wholly pleasant mix of harmonies and banjos, but it’s more patient, purposefully trading off between vocal tracks and instrumentals, pretty much every other song, and allows for the traditional tracks to be used as rather purposeful turning points or climaxes on the disc, which makes them especially effective, reworked via the group’s soulful style.

That said, one such turning point is a little rougher, with Pallet on Your Floor a bit simplistic – lyrically, musically – and followed up by a similarly lightweight instrumental, Roanoke Cindy. However, this does give way to generally more contemplative and soulful fare on for the album’s back half – as compared to a somewhat uplifting set of lead-ins – with a cover of traditional O Death really twisted and turned to best suit the band; there is no pastiche involved at all.

A sensibility which holds true throughout: Soon One Morning finds Black Twig Pickers wringing a very rich, authentic sound from their guitars, fiddle, and bass, embracing Americana with both arms, but leaving room for an organic bit of self-expression. Turning this into an album hits a somewhat sticky transition point halfway through, but the surroundings of this are incredibly strong, giving the band and album a clear identity that their debut could be said to have lacked.